It is safe to say that one of the positive highlights of my second year in the university, and by extension, my ongoing journey in the university was/is encountering my Constitutional Law lecturer, Professor Aminu Kabeer. The experience was unexpected, as I had not heard of him before then.
Our first class with him was on a Monday. He had walked into the class, with a smile so homely you were left with no choice but to smile back. As was characteristic of every lecturer during their first classes, he welcomed us, and gave us his few and quite friendly rules. And then he gave an introduction of the first topic, speaking impeccable English, engaging the entire class effortlessly. Drawing instances from the reality of the current state of the country. Repeating a point again and again tirelessly, with vigor and passion, whenever it was an especially important one. Seeking our opinions, listening with such unpretentiously rapt attention. Genuinely interested. I think now, as I did during the classes that followed, that it was that genuine interest he showed in our opinions, the way he looked at a student giving an opinion, eyes squinted behind those glasses, a glint in them as he looked at the speaker, that smile never leaving his face, that made us comfortable in his class, that loosened our tongues whenever he declared the floor open to questions and opinions. I remember turning to my friend and saying to her “I think we have just met a rare lecturer”.
By the end of that first class, I had decided that (a) I had just met my favourite lecturer; and (b) Smiling was not just his hobby, his face was a smile.
I hate Mondays, like most students, but for Professor Aminu Kabeer, I began to look forward to Mondays, as his class was usually the first. He lectured with so much passion, that man. A passion so contagious that I left his class each time with a renewed determination for what I was studying; Law. He made the task of interpreting or breaking down the constitution a most interesting and easy one. And when after repeating a particular point tirelessly, a student raised a hand and said they did not understand it, he never got angry. He broke it down and explained it with such care, until the student, now bright faced with new knowledge nodded enthusiastically.
He was a total gentleman too, addressing students with “ma’am” and “sir”. He had patience and tolerance. His brilliance was something to admire and strive to achieve. My fondest memory of him is of a class we had, where he spoke with disappointment and incredulity at section 315(4)(a)(iii) of the constitution, the palpability of his disappointment was so strong it printed the words of that section on my memory, till now, without my trying.
On the day we had our last class with him, we did not know that it was to be the last class. It was with a collective gasp of great sadness that the entire class responded when at the end of the class, he told us that it was to be his last one with us, as he was traveling for a long time, and another lecturer was to take over from him.